Ask the Agent: Tenancy Law

Get the best advice about propertySanket Khanna, CEO and Founder, SNS Properties

I have found a prospective property buyer, but my tenant refuses to show the property. What are my rights as a landlord?

As an owner, you can certainly sell your property and showcase it to potential buyers, but you cannot force the tenant to have it viewed anytime. You will have to respect the privacy of the tenant by giving him at least 24-48 hours’ notice. Tenants can sometimes be difficult in arranging for the same, but it is better that such things are discussed in the beginning of the contract, whether you are willing to sell it or not, so that in the future, neither of you will face any issue. As the property owner, it is your responsibility to allow access only to serious buyers. A cooperative tenant will definitely help you sell the property faster. Your tenant may assume that when the property is sold, he has to vacate it. Explain to him that the same tenancy contract can be transferred to the new owner.

I recently rented an apartment in Downtown Dubai. The owner asked for a deposit cheque and rental cheque. Are landlords entitled to collect and encash deposit cheques?

When renting a property, a security deposit is collected from the tenant. This is refundable. As per Law No. 26 of 2007, Article 20, the landlord is allowed to obtain a deposit cheque from the tenant as security against the property, provided the landlord shall refund the deposit at the end of the contract. As per law, upon vacating the apartment, the tenant has to return it in the same condition as it was received at the time of renting. If maintenance work is required, either the tenant pays or the owner deducts a certain amount from the deposit. If it is the former, the owner must return the deposit in full. The same is true when maintenance work is not needed. The landlord is allowed to receive the deposit in cash or encash the cheque.

My landlord asked us to vacate the apartment immediately as he is selling it. We have a newborn. It is difficult to find a new home in such short notice.

A landlord can only ask you to vacate the premises by giving a notary-attested 12 months’ notice. As per the law, the landlord can request the tenant to vacate the premises only for three specific reasons: he wants the property for personal use, he wants to sell the property and if the building/apartment needs renovation/maintenance work which makes it unfit for occupancy.

But in your case, the owner has not served you enough notice period, so you have all the rights to deny him. You can inform him that he has to give you a written legal notice. Also, if you wish to stay in the apartment, then you should discuss it with your landlord and confirm with him that you will cooperate in showcasing the property. If you allow the real estate agent to show the apartment to potential buyers, the owner may consider not giving you a vacating notice.

My landlord sent me an increase notice of 15% when I renew next week. How can I verify if this hike is right and if I am not being overcharged?

As per the law, if there is any change which needs to be applied in the existing tenancy contract at the time of renewal, the owner must give 90 days’ written notice to the tenant. You will not be entitled for any rent increase if the owner only informed you a week before renewal. It does not fulfil the criteria of a 90-day written notice informing the tenant of any change in the contract terms and conditions during renewal. In your case that the owner failed to give you a notice period, you can deny any such increase in rent even if it is allowed by law. Tenants can always check the rent increase percentage by visiting the website of the Dubai Land Department and selecting the option Rental Increase Calculator. Kindly note that the owner can only demand a rental increase as per the rental calculator if he has served the tenant a 90-day written notice.

Question of the Week: I have rented a room in a two-bedroom apartment in Jumeirah Beach Residence. The property owner increases the rent every one or two months. What should I do?

Subleasing is when a tenant, who has actually rented the apartment from the owner, further leases a room or a portion of a property to someone else. Subletting is illegal and is against the rules and regulations of RERA. The person whom you consider as the property owner may not be the actual owner and may have rented the property from the actual owner and then sublet it to you or the other residents in it to share the expense. If the real property owner is not aware of this subletting, he might ask you and the other occupants to vacate as, legally, you are not the actual tenants of the premises. Landlords mostly do not allow the subleasing of apartments. If it is done without permission, it can be considered a breach of contract. It is always good to confirm from the person who is offering the property if he is the property owner or a tenant himself. If he is a tenant, then check whether he has permission from the landlord or not. Also, the person whom you think is the property owner may collect rent from you and then break his contract with the owner without informing you. In that case, you will lose your deposit if it is paid along with the rent. Legally, you cannot claim either. Do not rent such kind of property as it may only cause trouble.

Source: Sanket Khanna, CEO and Founder, SNS Properties.


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